Labor Leaders Tell Obama: Stop Killing Jobs
Even Big Labor is complaining about Big Government.


Deroy Murdock

As 9.1 percent unemployment plagues America this Labor Day, major unions are clashing with a Democratic administration with which they normally would march in lock-step. Echoing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at least eight unions are begging Team Obama to abandon regulations, statements, and procedures that prevent jobs from being created or saved.  

— Several labor unions decry the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing and prospective rules, mainly those designed to reduce coal emissions. These stalwarts of the liberal Left resemble capitalists who now call the EPA the Employment Prevention Agency.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Texas unit wrote the EPA June 16 on behalf of its 23,000 members. IBEW executive Jonathan Gardner warned that EPA red tape “would directly jeopardize the jobs of approximately 1,500 IBEW members working at six different power plants across the state of Texas.” Gardner argued, “The shutdown of coal-fired units without any meaningful benefit to the environment is not justified.”

This catastrophe unfolds well beyond the Lone Star State.

The 76,000-member United Mine Workers estimates that EPA-fueled power-plant closures directly could kill 54,151 jobs and indirectly destroy 197,140 others in America’s coal, utility, and railroad industries.

In an August 1 letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff and commissioners John Norris and Cheryl LaFleur wrote that FERC examined “how coal-fired generating units could be impacted [sic] by EPA rules.” FERC explained that this “informal, preliminary assessment showed 40 GW of coal-fired generating capacity ‘likely’ to retire, with another 41 GW ‘very likely’ to retire.”

If the EPA unplugs 81 gigawatts, it would dim America’s electrical capacity 8.1 percent, from 995 GW to 914. American Electric Power, Duke Energy, and the Southern Company — among other utilities — have declared that these rules will force them to close coal-fired generating stations. Padlocked power plants and scarcer electricity would debilitate America’s feeble economy and further imperil workers — unionized and otherwise.

“Overly aggressive action in the absence of effective, economical pollution control technology could result in unintended consequences that hinder employment growth necessary for a full economic recovery,” Mark Ayers, chief of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, wrote the White House last year. Ayers, who represents 1.5 million workers, added: “Our unions will be hard-pressed to support actions that lack the appropriate incentives to encourage both emissions reductions and job growth, while potentially having a chilling effect on the construction activities that put our members to work.”

● R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the 720,000-member International Association of Machinists, penned a June 29 letter with Peter J. Bunce, CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. This labor-management duo pleaded with President Obama to stop slamming corporate jets.

“We are perplexed over recent comments and actions questioning the value of corporate aircraft use and proposing tax changes that would negatively impact the entire general aviation industry,” Buffenbarger and Bunce wrote. “During the severe economic downturn in 2008, ill-informed criticism of corporate jets and business aviation exacerbated the challenges facing our industry, which led to depressed new aircraft sales and jeopardized very good, high-paying jobs throughout the United States. More than 20,000 highly skilled IAM members were laid off in this industry.”

The labor and management leaders continued: “We are very concerned that the rhetoric coming from some in your Administration will lead to similar economic difficulties. While such talk may appear to some as good politics, the reality is that it hurts one of the leading manufacturing and exporting industries in the United States.”


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